How prepared is Qatar’s health sector to deal with a potential outbreak of COVD-19?
Qatar’s healthcare sector is strongly prepared to manage a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. Hamad Medial Corporation (HMC) Ambulance Service staff have been fully trained to safely transfer and manage patients with this type of communicable virus, while preventing further spread. The Ambulance Service has the necessary vehicles and protective equipment to manage patients with COVID-19. Any patient with suspected COV-ID-19 is taken to HMC’s Communicable Disease Center for treatment and monitoring while the test is carried out.
The Communicable Disease Center is purpose-built to manage patients with this type of condition and ensure that the virus is not spread to other people within the hospital or outside. Healthcare workers across the country have been specifically trained to manage any potential outbreak and efforts to strengthen infection prevention and control, case management and laboratory procedures have been prioritized. Additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been planned as a contingency.
What steps has Qatar taken to date to protect the population from COVID-19?
- -Robust thermal screening procedures at Hamad International Airport and sea ports for passengers entering Doha from all countries. The screening helps to identify passengers with fever, one of the common symptoms of COVID-19
- -A special clinic at Hamad International Airport to conduct interviews and examinations of all suspected travelers at the airport.
- -MOPH has established residential accommodation for those people who meet the quarantine standards.
- -Additional training for healthcare workers and the strengthening of infection prevention and control, and laboratory procedures have all been prioritized.
- -A community awareness campaign has been delivered featuring a dedicated national website, TV and radio interviews with medical experts, regular social media messaging, and newspaper coverage. These activities have included Arabic, English, Hindi, Malayalam, French, and Chinese languages.
- -Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control teams have been engaged in regular active surveillance visits to hospitals and Intensive Care Units to ensure that no suspected cases of respiratory infections are missed in accordance with the WHO.
- -What are the precautionary measures Qatar took to minimize the spread of COVID-19?
- -Qatar has taken a number of precautionary measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 across various areas:
As a preventive measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, all incoming flights to Doha were stopped for 14 days, starting from Wednesday, March 18, which could be renewed, with the exception of air cargo and transit flights, in addition to receiving any Qatari citizens coming from any destination in the world with implementing a 14-day quarantine on them.
These precautionary measures may be subject to further updates based on the latest guidance of government authorities in Qatar and international organizations. If you have any travel plans, please check the information published by the Government of your destination country before travelling.
All modes of public transportation stopped, including metro and Karwa buses, from the night of Sunday, 15 March at 10:00 pm, as a step to further minimize the spread of COVID-19.
As one of the precautionary measures, a decision has been made to suspend public and private schools and universities for all students in the State of Qatar, which came into effect starting Tuesday, 10 March, until further notice, to ensure the safety of students in all government and private educational institutions. Accordingly, virtual classes started taking place of conventional means of teaching and learning as educational institutes are ready to employ modern technology. Starting Sunday, 22 March 2020, all students in public schools will be learning remotely and students from grades the first grade to the eleventh grade will be subject to an ongoing evaluation system. As for the twelfth grade students, they will undergo high school exams on time and at the exams headquarters, which will be announced later. As for students in private schools and universities, they start studying remotely according to the academic calendar and the evaluation systems approved for them.
The Cabinet decided to reduce the number of employees at the workplace of government entities to 20% of the total workforce from Sunday, 22 March 2020, for a period of two weeks. While 80% of the staff will work from their homes, those present and working from their workplace will help complete the necessary tasks for the functioning and regularity of public facilities, during which the situation will be assessed in order to take necessary decision, with the exception of military, security and healthcare sectors.
Submitting orders in restaurants and cafes, and sitting of customers or forming gatherings inside and outside the aforementioned halls, have been banned until further notice, within the framework of preventive measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with the exception of home delivery services for external orders and pickups for internal orders, until further notice.
Other Precautionary Measures
- -Closing retail stores and bank branches in the commercial complexes and shopping centers, with the exception of shops and food outlets and pharmacies
- -Closing shops and all activities of male and female barbershops, until further notice, and stopping the home services provided by some of these barbershops
- -Stopping the activities of health clubs in hotels, according to the circulars issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, until further notice
- -Prohibiting all forms of gathering, by the power of law, including, but not limited to, Corniche, public parks and beaches, and social gatherings
How could I access the services I need while staying at home to protect myself?
Various government entities, ministries, and service providers across Qatar called on the public to access their services online, instead of going to their premises or respective service centers. You can access those services from the comfort and safety of your home through: